Advice From The DIY Crazy & The Not: Bathroom Carpet Removal

Okay, so there’s one problem with asking someone who compulsively buys powertools and starts projects about whether or not you should:

  • Rip out carpet
  • Tear down walls
  • Rebuild your entire house from ground up
  • [Insert your project here]

The problem is that I have no boundaries of sanity when it comes to DIY projects. Good if you’re looking for a little power tool confidence, bad if you want to hear from the voice of reason.

A dear reader asked me a DIY question over the weekend that I’ve been dying to answer, but as I was typing this post I remembered that for all of my good intentions, I’m a person who thrives in chaos — and so I don’t hesitate to create more, or advise others to do the same. Particularly in my home. And that could lead to some bad advice.

It occurred to me that what I really needed was a voice of reason to temper my DIY crazy advice, which is to say I needed MysteryMan. And even though that dude spends as much time pretending this website doesn’t exist as he does rolling his eyes at me, he agreed to dispense his usual level-headed advice. After I have my say, of course.  So we’re open for business, feel free to drop us a comment or shoot us an email — we’re ready to advise away.

First question comes from Dee, who was asking about the carpet in her bathroom.

Our home has carpeting in both bathrooms, which I think is absolutely stupid!  I mean, there are the occasional toilet back ups and run overs, afterall.  Anyhoo, I would like to remove the carpeting and lay tile.  Here is my fear/problem…will the toilet still hook up to the pipe in the floor if there is tile instead of carpet?  I hope you know what I mean. If you know, could you tell me?  Thanks Dee

From the Resident Tool Addict:

Dee – While yes, it’s true, I’ve been known to jump into a project with both feet before thinking all the way through it before… this isn’t one of those times. 1.) Go get a utility knife and rip up that carpet. Actually, first, go get a pair of gloves… then go get utility knife and rip up that carpet.

Have I ever shown you what it looked like under the stick-tiles in my old half-bath?

3_Basement Bath- floor up

Ugh. Ugggh. I just need to post the “after” picture so I stop remembering what it smelled like to pull up those tiles.


Okay, that’s better. Anyway… back to the question at hand. Will the toilet still hook up to the pipe if you have tile instead of pipe. If I have to personally come over there and make the toilet hook up to the pipe, I will, but I don’t think we need to get that extreme. Let’s take a look at the anatomy of a toilet real quick:

The toilet sits on (and is bolted to) a flange that is also bolted to the floor. There is a wax ring that forms the seal between the toilet and flange.

The flange in your case probably sits right on the subfloor and the carpet probably just butts up to the toilet.

Now I’ll be perfectly honest and tell you that in the bathroom seen above, I just left the toilet attached to the subfloor and tiled right around it. In retrospect, maybe not a good idea to grout your fixtures into the floor.

What you should do is remove the flange, tile up to the pipe, install the flange over the tile OR check this out (something I just found when I was googling “toilet flange” to find a good diagram)

Self-sealing toilet flange extenders for under $10 on Amazon.

You’d have to check the directions, but I’m guessing it’s something like this, but possibly without even needing the silicone.

From the Resident Sane Person:

Yes, can still hook up the toilet with the new tile, but you have to be comfortable with a little plumbing work. You may have to replace the flange that is attached to the subfloor (and make sure it extends far enoungh down to hook up to the existing plumbing in/below the floor). Or you may have to install a flange extension that you would have to add to the existing flange.

Before you start, I’d say it’s important that you (or someone working with you)  are comfortable enough with the plumbing to feel like you could get everything on correctly. A leaking toilet, especially on a second floor, can cause a lot of damage. It may be worth pricing out a flange replacement with a local plumber– you could find the peace of mind is well worth the cost.

Here is my advice if you do it yourself:

  1. The water should be off before you start, and you have to flush all of the tank water out before removal. [Note from the addict: Last time I removed a toilet I got one flush out of it, and the rest of the bowl water I had to remove by hand. Not sure if this is because I mis-remembered the laws of toilets and physics, or if everyone has to do this. Just FYI.]
  2. Put the toilet in or on something plastic because more water will be released after removal.
  3. The carpet would be butting up to the toilet, but the tile should go under the toilet. The important thing is that the toilet itself can sit flush on the tile and still be anchored to the flange without leaving gaps.
  4. You’ll probably need to replace the wax ring as well when you do this. (It’s a good idea anyway.)

Final Answer

Dee, independently we both concur. It can be done (you’re not stuck with carpet forever) but almost for sure you’re going to have to modify the flange under the toilet.

Here are some resources to help:

Good luck! I’m so rooting for you being carpet free in the bathroom.

If anyone else has any good advice for Dee, please share.

7 Responses

  1. Regarding MysteryMan’s #4. I’ve always heard it was a good rule of thumb to replace the wax ring any time you pull the toilet up. Even further, I’ve heard some people say if you’re going to loosen the floor bolts for any reason, you should go ahead and pull the toilet up to replace that ring.

    On another note, I’ve used the flange extensions before when laying a Pergo-type floor over linoleum. They work great, and require no silicone. Just make sure you have something handy to lop the top off the bolts when you’ve got your toilet installed. The extension I used had these outrageously long bolts that reach from the original flange, through the extension, and finally through the bottom of the toilet. So, I see the need for being long, but they will likely be longer than you need.

  2. Awesome Post.
    One quick question. A friend recently redid her bath, and was worried about putting tile on the floor [there previously hadn’t been any…just carpet] But she was concerned because her toilet was one there the waste line went out the back vertically into the wall.. but it still had a base, if that makes sense. She was worried if she pulled the toilet, tiled, etc., that when she went back to install the toilet, it wouldn’t line up. She ended up leaving it in place, and tiling around it.
    Do they make adapters for the ones where the waste line goes straight out the back into a wall?

    1. Jenne –

      I’m guessing you mean something like this:

      Here’s the thing that’s driving me nuts, I could have sworn I saw something like this when looking up flange diagrams for Dee. But, I can’t re-find the thing.

      Logically, yes, raising the toilet would mean the pipes don’t line up, and I probably would have done the same thing and tiled around the toilet. I was thinking more about it (because I’ve done that before) and even with our correctly mounted toilet the plumber still grouted it to the floor, so I don’t know that its any different than tiling around it. Except those cuts aren’t the most fun to make.

  3. Thanks so much for your answer. Phew!!! I really hate that carpeting in the bathroom! Since neither my husband nor myself are “plumbing savvy” I think I will enlist the help of our plumber. I can do the tearing out of the carpet, replace it with tile, and leave the toidy problem to the plumber. Not completey DIY, but halvies is better than none! Thanks again so much!

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  5. I know this is an old thread, but I’m giving this a shot… we have carpet in our bathroom, and we have a cat who continues to spray whenever she finds the opportunity, I clean the carpet, and I have a toddler who has repeatedly soaked the carpet during baths. I’m beyond ready to just get this smelly crap out of here even if it means dealing with the ugly wood underneath. Any advice on what to do with the wood? We will eventually remodel our bathrooms so I’m just looking for a quick fix.

  6. We are fixing to tear out carpet in our mobile home, and replace it with self-stick tile. Any help will be greatly appreciated!!

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